Dubai Design Week: what to do and what to see

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As you may already know, I have recently returned from Dubai Design Week, where I had the most fantastic and interesting time. My days here were filled with rich and stimulating experiences and now that a few days have passed and I have had time to organise my thoughts, I would like to share with you some of my ideas and suggestions on: what to do and what to see at Dubai Design Week.

The event takes place every year in November. This year the event was held between 11th to 16th November, six great days in which the fair attracted more than 90.000 visitors.
The first DDW was organised in 2015, with the precise purpose of promoting the design sector in the United Arab Emirates. As events go, it is a very new annual event, but remember this is Dubai: just like a tall, one hundred and fifty story skyscraper, Dubai has grown very quickly and already today this fair is considered one of  the most important design trade fairs in the entire Middle East.

The event is held between the Dubai Design District and the Downtown Design area. The ‘Design District’ is the area where almost all the businesses, showrooms and buildings that focus on design are based. A few steps away is the  ‘Downtown Design’ area, a large pavilion which contains the stands and exhibitions of all the various companies.

The first thing I want to say is that Dubai Design Week is a trade fair mainly aimed at B2B in the Middle East area. However the presence of brands is indirect: in the vast majority of cases, the exhibitors use showrooms – some of which are single brand stores – which then display the brands that they work with.

AS A VISITOR

If you are a designer, a journalist or a retailer and you want to visit Dubai Design Week you can:

  • View and interact with the installations in the Design District.
  • Attend talks and workshops.

See or take part in the Global Grade Show – the best design universities from around the world, such as the Royal College of Arts, Keio University and KAIST, all exhibiting their projects, enriching them with unique and interesting interactive experiences.

 

As for the actual trade fair in the pavillion, ‘Downtown Design’ – you have to register to enter, then you will be able to:

  • See various collections from companies in the area. This is also useful to see the type of products that work in a particular type of market.
  • Be in direct contact with the showrooms exhibiting, most of which are from Dubai.
  • Relate and communicate with some of the exhibiting companies (there are very few!).

EXHIBITING

If you are a company interested in exhibiting at Dubai Design Week – amongst other things – you can:

  • Network with the showrooms, in a geographical context.
  • Survey and research the reaction of this market to your brand and your products.

IN CONCLUSION

Dubai Design Week is a beautiful and stimulating fair, maybe not in first place on my list of ‘events not to be missed’, but to be added if you can to other design events around the world.

Although this fair is relatively small, I saw many things that thrilled me – one in particular the exhibition of Preciosa: a myriad of lights which ignite when two people meet and embrace in the center of the installation.

 

From a more general perspective, for me it was an opportunity to see and feel a different approach to trade fairs, different from those that I am used to. Moreover, although the fair was small and intimate, it gave me the opportunity to get to know many people and make new, interesting business contacts.

There is no doubt: if I had to make a choice of avoiding an event from a busy calendar – this event would always be high on my list!

So, what do you think of Dubai and its Design Week? Will you go there next year? Do you have any tips or interesting information to add? Let me know in the comments here!

This is just one of the many design events to be held over the coming months. To make things clearer, I created a Google Calendar with all the design events which you can’t miss, and I want to share it with you. You can download it HERE.

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